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tv   Politics Nation  MSNBC  June 24, 2013 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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tonight's lead, opening statements in the george zimmerman murder trial. 16 months after the death of trayvon martin, a jury in a criminal trial finally heard evidence about what happened on that rainy night in sanford, florida. it was a dramatic and emotional day in court. the jury heard testimony from four eyewitnesses. four witnesses, ending just moments ago. they were not eyewitnesses. let me correct myself. they were witnesses. the day started with an opening statement from prosecutor john guy that caught many by surprise. he quoted george zimmerman's own words, including profanity during a call to police the night of trayvon martin's death. he quoted zimmerman to lay out the prosecution's case. >> good morning. >> good morning. >> [ bleep ] punks.
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these [ bleep ], they always get away. those were the words in that grown man's mouth as he followed in the dark a 17-year-old boy who he didn't know. and excuse my language, but those were his words, not mine. [ bleep ] punks. these [ bleep ], they always get away. those were the words in that defendant's head just moments before he pressed that pistol into trayvon martin's chest and pulled the trigger. and then as the smoke and the smell of that fatal gunshot rose into a rainy sunday sanford night, trayvon martin, 21 days removed from his 16th year, was
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face-down in wet grass, laboring through his final breaths on this earth. the truth about the murder of trayvon martin is going to come directly from his mouth. from those hate-filled words that he used to describe a perfect stranger, and from the lies that he told to the police to try to justify his actions. a 28-year-old grown man, somebody who wanted to be a police officer, somebody who had called the police numerous times about crime in his neighborhood, someone who had become the neighborhood watch captain, and someone who believed, most importantly, that it was his right to rid his neighborhood of anyone that he believed didn't belong. at the end of this trial, you
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will know in your head, in your heart, in your stomach, that george zimmerman did not shoot trayvon martin because he had to. he shot him for the worst of all reasons, because he wanted to. >> after a short break, it was the defense's turn. lawyer don west gave jurors an alternate version of events that night, that george zimmerman acted in self-defense. >> i think the evidence will show that this is a sad case. that there are no monsters here. george zimmerman is not guilty of murder. he shot trayvon martin in self-defense after being viciously attacked. and here is the evidence that will show you how and why it happened the way it did. >> george zimmerman sees trayvon
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martin in a spot and he caught his attention, caught george zimmerman's attention. little did george zimmerman know at the time that in less than ten minutes from him first seeing trayvon martin, that he, george zimmerman, would be sucker punched in the face, have his head pounded on concrete, and wind up shooting and tragically killing trayvon martin. >> the defense opening statement lasted two and a half hours. the prosecution's opening just 30 minutes. two very different approaches today as the jury began considering whether george zimmerman is guilty of killing trayvon martin.
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joining me now is former prosecutor faith jenkins, msnbc legal analyst lisa bloom, and florida defense attorney ken padowitz. thank you all for being here. >> thank you. >> thanks for having me. >> ken, you've made many opening arguments. what is your reaction to today's openings? >> well, i have to say, after 35 first degree murder trials i've handled here in the state of florida, i would describe the prosecutor's opening as simply brilliant. i thought it was a fantastic use of bringing the jury, the six women sitting there listening to this prosecutor, out of that courtroom and to the scene of the crime. he used, this prosecutor, the words of george zimmerman to do this. and it was shocking, yes, but i think it was very effective in bringing them to that crime scene, bringing them to the time period when this 17-year-old was shot and killed. and i think he did it very, very
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effectively. he described in great detail, using sights and sounds and smells, to bring that jury out of that courtroom, that cold, sterile environment, and to that scene of that horrific murder. and i think he did a great job in painting that picture in a very descriptive way. and really made the point that he wanted to as to what this evidence actually is going to paint during the course of this trial. >> faith, i see you nodding your head. do you agree the prosecutor won the first round, if we're to call opening arguments the first round? >> he was fantastic today. in order for these jurors to believe in the message, they have to believe in the messenger. john guy stood in front of them, no notes, and he commanded the entire room, the entire duration of his opening statements, unlike the defense. he commanded authority. he had the emotion. he was direct, concise, precise
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and compelling in everything he said. he was riveting. and people literally hung on his every word. it was very, very effective. >> now, lisa, the prosecution described the first responders following up what faith said about the descriptions. the prosecution took time to even in the 30 minutes to describe the first responders that were trying to save trayvon martin's life. listen to this. >> the first two officers to trayvon martin's body found him exactly like that defendant left him. face-down, his hands clutching his chest. sergeant raymondo will explain the steps he took to save trayvon martin's life. and he'll admit to you he didn't exactly follow sops with the police department, because they hold that if you are to try to
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give mouth-to-mouth somebody that you go to your car first and you get a breathing mask to separate your mouth from their mouth. well, sergeant raymondo realized there was no time for that. so he put his lips entree von martin's lips and tried to breathe life into him. and officer ayala put his palms on trayvon martin's chest and tried to push life into him. but it was too late. trayvon martin had already passed. >> he described it in detail. do you agree that the prosecutor was doing as well as both ken and faith has indicate they'd feel he has? >> well, on style, there is no question about it, that the prosecutor's passionate, short, succinct opening statement was
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better on style than the defense's bumbling and long-winded opening statement was. but this trial is not just about style. it's about assistance as well. and the defense took a long time going through the forensic evidence, arguing the forensic evidence and the way most helpful to george zimmerman. and i think that's what this case is going to come down to, forensics, both on the prosecution side and on the defense side. >> ken, the forensics. you have a conflict, it's no surprise, between what the prosecution said and what the defense said in terms of even how the one shot was fired, how close it was, how far it was, where it entered the hoodie jacket that mr. -- that trayvon was wearing. how important will what has been represented by the prosecutor and what has been represented by the defense, how important will it be when the jury finds out who is right under forensic evidence?
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>> well, that's the fantastic thing about our jury system is we take people from the community, these six is women will sit there and the clashes from both sides, from the prosecution and the defense in the form of testimony and physical evidence, that will form that dust cloud figuratively over the jury, and then from that, they get to determine in their own minds which gets great weight, which gets some weight, and which evidence gets no weight at all. so that jury is going to have this very difficult task of deciding which evidence is really something that they can rely upon using their common sense and life experience? and i have to tell you that they're going to be listening very, very carefully to what this evidence is in determining what they want to give the most weight. to. >> faith, the defense definitely laid out a longer, more extend kind of step by step, but not with the passion or the emotion of the prosecutors.
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but he also had an unusual method of trying to connect with the jury. let me play this to you. >> knock knock. who's there? george zimmerman. george zimmerman who? all right, good. you're on the jury. nothing? that's funny. >> i mean, a joke in the middle of a murder, an awkward joke at that? it didn't seem to go over too well in the courtroom. and so much so that he tried to patch things up and explain the unorthodox comment when he came back. listen. after break, he came back and tried to say this. >> no more bad jokes, i promise that. i'm convinced it was the delive delivery, though. i really thought that was sorry. i'm sorry if i offended anyone about that.
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my focus is on the detail. and if i have to sacrifice passion, it's not because i don't feel passionate about this case. it's been my life's work for the last year. but it's because that's not -- i don't want that to get in the way, even if it means it's boring or somewhat technical. i want the information before you that you may consider in evaluating the evidence. >> does something like this hurt the defense? >> this was so beyond inappropriate, this is a murder trial where a 17-year-old teenager has been killed. i was stunned by it. i don't think o'mara knew that this guy was going to get up and say that when he said it. >> o'mara being his cocounsel? shir . >> he is cocounsel. >> during the break they had a discussion and after the break he came back and apologize and tried to give an explanation for
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it. >> to put it mildly. >> i think that they were so taken aback by john guy and his opening. he wanted to get up and change the mood and change the tone in the courtroom. so he decides to tell a joke. and it backfired completely. >> lisa? >> yeah. this was a very, very insensitive comment. consider that trayvon martin's parents are sitting right there, and this is the first day at trial. >> and you saw them wiping their eyes. >> and you're telling knock knock jokes? are you kidding me? i'm sure at the lunch breaks behind closed doors the other members of the team said you have to fix this. you really stepped in it. you have to get back out there and apologize, and that's what he did. to be fair, he did have another two and a half hours of his opening statement where he did talk about the evidence. >> now, ken, how does that play in florida? >> well, i'll tell you how it plays in florida. it's as if i'm a pilot flying a 747 and i get on the loudspeaker and i tell everyone on the plane, hey, by the way, we just ran out of gas and we're going to be crash landing in the next
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few moments. ha ha, it's just a joke. joke? this is going to be used in every law school in the united states as what not to do in an opening statement in a trial of a dead 17-year-old. you do not do this. this was not only insensitive, it was just plain stupid. and, you know, it's easy to play monday morning quarterback from a lawyer sitting in front of a tv camera as opposed to a jury. but after 300 jury trials, i can tell you i've never seen something so ridiculous in an opening statement in a murder trial. >> well, we'll see how it affects down the road. but, you know, the defense also tried, ken, to keep the prosecutor from saying certain words in their opening statement like profound or vigilante. the defense lost that ruling. and here is what the prosecutor john guy told the jury. >> when he first saw trayvon martin, he didn't see a kid from miami walking home from the 7-eleven. he profiled him.
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as someone who was to be commit a crime in his neighborhood. he had just profiled, followed, and murdered an unarmed teenager. as he followed in the dark a 17-year-old boy who he didn't know. he was appointed the neighborhood watch coordinator. he was told do not be the vigilante police. don't follow. don't confront. >> how effective is that to a group of florida women, all-women jury. how effective is that, or ineffective is that in your opinion, ken? >> well, i think it's extremely effective. trial lawyers are artists in the courtroom. they use not paint, but they use words to paint their picture. and he is using, this prosecutor, a word that is highly charged, especially amongst a women jury.
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women -- as well as anyone can understand being profiled. women know what it's like to be treated in the workplace differently than a man. so i think those kind of words, those $10 words i think are very powerful and really communicate to the jury that, you know, a lot of different things that are important, the prosecutor is trying to get here in making the argument to the jury. >> lisa, the $10 words event effective? >> i like the phrase $10 words. you know, i don't know if it's any more effective with women than men? women jurors and men jurors tend to decide things the same way. ultimately it's going to come down to the forensic evidence. i was particularly moved today by the prosecutor's argument opening, for example, that george zimmerman said that trayvon martin had his hands over zimmerman's nose and mouth. we know that zimmerman's nose was bleeding, yet there was no blood entree von martin's fingers nor on his fingernails nor on the cuffs of the two shirts he was wearing. i thought that was powerful for the prosecution. >> it's clear from opening statements today that the state
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is going to put in some of george zimmerman's statements, and they're going to use his own words against him, because they outlined lie after lie, inconsistency after inconsistency in his statements. so they're going to put those forward. and they're going to stay he has lied in the past. he hasn't been honest. how can you believe anything he is telling you now? >> hold it right there, faith, lisa, and ken. please stay with me. lots more to talk about. ahead, why did george zimmerman's defense team try to knock trayvon martin's parents out of the courtroom? a surprising twist that caught many by surprise. and supreme court justice clarence thomas compares affirmative action to segregation. unbelievable. the big ruling on affirmative action today. we'll have the news. and remember, i want to hear from you. send me your e-mails. reply al is coming. stay with us. [ panting ]
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a strange moment in the zimmerman trial today. why did his lawyers ask for trayvon martin's parents to be out of the courtroom? that's next. ♪ now you can give yourself a kick in the rear! v8 v-fusion plus energy. natural energy from green tea plus fruits and veggies. need a little kick? ooh! could've had a v8. in the juice aisle. [ whirring ] [ dog barks ] i want to treat more dogs. ♪ our business needs more cases. [ male announcer ] where do you want to take your business? i need help selling art. [ male announcer ] from broadband to web hosting to mobile apps, small business solutions from at&t have the security you need to get you there. call us. we can show you how at&t solutions can help you do what you do... even better.
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through now. >> that was trayvon martin's mother sybrina fulton before court began earlier today. one of the big moments in today's proceedings involved her and trayvon martin's father. mr. zimmerman's attorney argued they should be removed from court. george zimmerman's parents and wife had already been ordered to leave the courtroom because they may be called as witnesses by the prosecution. mr. zimmerman's lawyers wanted trayvon martin's parents out too. but the judge said the victim's family must be allowed to remain in the courtroom if they choose. >> as far as the victim's parents or next of kin, they are allowed in. the defense has to show some prejudice to keep them out. >> back with me are faith jenkins, lisa bloom, and ken padowitz. lisa, let me start with you.
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george zimmerman's parents will not be in the court, but trayvon's parents will be in attendance. how important is that fact? >> first of all, it's a very interesting legal quirk. it used to be victims' family didn't have rights. the parents of a minor have the right to be present for all aspects of a trial. that's why they get to stay. everybody else who is a witness has to be excluded until they testify, and then they can come in. and the defense is concerned about how that looks. the defense doesn't want the jury to say oh, trayvon martin's family is there, but there is nobody here on george zimmerman's sideshowing him support. so they were trying to get zimmerman's family in. but the judge said no, they may be witnesses. they're excluded until they testify. >> now trayvon's mother at one point when one of the 911 calls was played actually had to leave the courtroom. is this something that could impact a jury and that the defense is concerned about,
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those ladies on the jury looking at a mother having to go through this? >> there is no doubt those jurors see trayvon martin's parents sitting in that courtroom, and they know about the emotional impact that that can have. five of six of these jurors are mothers. it is going to resonate with them when they hear that a 17-year-old kid with nothing but candy and a phone was killed while walking home from a store. so it is going to have an emotional impact. but the prosecutor knows that what they have in this case. the biggest thing they have in this case is the emotion of trayvon martin being killed. >> ken, the parents in or out. how important is that? you try cases in florida. >> absolutely. well, lisa bloom is correct. in florida, victims' families are allowed to be present. and it's a public courtroom. so anyone could be there, especially nonwitnesses. but family members especially are entitled to be in that courtroom. and the prosecutor wants those parents there because they're the physical embodiment of the
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victim, of trayvon martin. they represent their son. and the jury every time they look over at those parents, they're going to think of trayvon martin. so the prosecutor definitely wants that but we have to keep in mind the jury is going to do their best to base their verdict on the evidence in this case. and the fact that the parents are in the courtroom or not is going to be a minor role. but really the important stuff in this case is going to be evidence in the form of testimony and other evidence that is presented for the jury during the trial. >> and that clearly, lisa, was where the defense is going today, i'm not going to deal with passion and emotion. i'm going give evidence. did he do that well? what were the stronger points for the defense? >> well, like the jury, i'm interested in the forensic evidence too. most jurors really want to decide a case based on science. and i thought the defense had a good answer. we'll see if the evidence shows it. but the defense's answer as to why trayvon martin didn't have blood on his hands was because the hands weren't properly bagged by the evidence
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investigators according to the defense. also, it was a rainy night. and in general, the defense is going after the police, because as you will recall, it was 44 days until the police ultimately brought charges against george zimmerman. so there was a lot of different things going on in the police department. and i think the cross-examination is going to be interesting. he did not lawyer up right away. instead he sat with the police and told them what they asked of him. >> the prosecution claimed in the opening state that mr. zimmerman pressed the gun barrel into trayvon martin's chest. but the defense presented a conflicting theory. watch. this. >> as the hot gunpowder that is burning exits the muzzle of the gun, it burns whatever it hits. it leaves marks. that means this irrefutably.
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that the clothing trayvon martin was wearing was separated from his skin by at least a certain amount. an inch or two or three. we have a contact wound -- or a contact with the fabric and not a contact with the skin. so then you would say, i would think, how could that happen? here's how. just the way john good saw it. he saw trayvon martin straddling george zimmerman and leaning over him, hitting him or punching him or pushing him. when you lean over, gravity pulls the fabric away.
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it separates, not like this, but like this. >> faith, is that going to be something that is very helpful to zimmerman? >> i thought that was a good point he made, because he talked about the positioning and how trayvon wore this sweatshirt. and it's actually conceivable that when zimmerman put the gun up to him, it touched the sweatshirt and not necessarily his body. it certainly contrasted the way the prosecutor presented the cold and callous manner the way zimmerman pulled the gun out, put it right up against his chest and pulled the trigger. he is saying it didn't happen that way. he pulled it out. he had to shoot. he did what he had to do in the moment. >> ken, does that follow a sequence of events that forensics will decide whether or not whose theory is the accurate one? >> well, that's an interesting question, because we can take forensic evidence, and we can put a bunch of different spins or perspectives on that evidence, and it's going to be up to the jury to decide which one is in fact correct, which
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one using their common sense and experience makes sense, which scenario falls in line with not only that evidence, but all the other evidence that they're going to be hearing during the course of the trial. >> lisa, though, either theory, and we'll see what happens, won't we, if we are on the defense side, have to, though, paint the picture that this man had no alternative but to kill, not fight back, but to kill. >> yes. >> let's say you are losing the fight. let's say he was being hit. you still got to establish to me why i had to kill you. >> yes. and the legal standard is he had to be in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death. add to that that george zimmerman has given a recorded statement that trayvon martin said you're going to die tonight and then some profanity. and that trayvon martin was reaching for the gun. that's the story they're going to have to stick to. that's the story that the defense is going to have to sell
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to this jury, and they want all of the forensics to be consistent with that. >> faith jenkins, lisa bloom and ken padowitz, we are certainly going to be sticking with this story. thanks for your time tonight. >> thank you. still ahead, how each side today talked about the gun that was used to kill trayvon martin. very different arguments about why george zimmerman was armed. plus, the day's other news, including a stunning claim from justice clarence thomas in a key ruling over affirmative action. stay with us. it's monday.
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or difficulty breathing or swallowing, stop taking cialis and get medical help right away. ask your doctor about cialis for daily use and a 30-tablet free trial. mommy's having a french fry. yes she is, yes she is. [ bop ] [ male announcer ] could've had a v8. 100% vegetable juice, with three of your daily vegetable servings in every little bottle. george zimmerman did not shoot trayvon martin because he had to. >> george zimmerman is not guilty of murder. >> he shot him for the worst of all reasons, because he wanted to. >> he shot trayvon martin in self-defense after being viciously attacked. >> more than a year after the death of trayvon martin, the day that so many people called for is here. opening statements today in the
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trial of george zimmerman. joining me now is former prosecutor marcia clark and author of "killer ambition." marcia, so much anticipation for the openings of this trial. what did you make of the opening statements? >> both sides delivered their strongest punch. the prosecution came out swinging by quoting from george zimmerman's 911 tapes, and the language that he used, i can't use it on the air, but f-ing, a-holes, is that close enough? i don't know if that was safe, indicating a mind-set by george zimmerman showing that he was already inclined to think the worst of trayvon martin from the first time he saw him and called the police. on the other hand, the defense was able to bring out and did bring out in great detail the manner which george zimmerman suffered injuries and the fact that it was possible that the voice we heard on the 911 tape screaming for help could have been george zimmerman's given the nature of the injuries that
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we eventually saw. so both sides came out swinging with their most strong points. and even though the defense did unfortunately tell a knock knock joke in the beginning that fell rather flat, i think the jury was able to get past that and focus on the evidence. we'll see what they actually turn up in the way of evidence. >> how important are opening statements at trials in your judgment? >> it's a really good question, reverend. i think they're good as road maps. but every judge makes it really clear that what the lawyers say is not evidence welfare. can get up and say everything we want about what we intend to prove, and if we don't prove it, it's not proven. that means it's not evidence and our statements are not evidence. that said we have seen that lawyers' opening evidence that k be something that the jury does improperly rely on. i point to casey anthony as an example of that in he claimed he would prove there was molestation by her father, and that the baby was found in the pool. he didn't prove any of that.
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yet the jurors came out talking about their suspicions about the father and about the baby having possibly drowned. opening statements can be very telling. >> now, they did get to some evidence today, both the prosecution and defense are laying out two very different arguments about whether george zimmerman actually followed trayvon martin. listen to this. >> tell the officer to just call me and i'll tell him where i am. because george zimmerman was not going back to the mailboxes, and he wasn't going back to his car. he was going after trayvon martin. >> there has been a lot of publicity, some of you may have even heard it, that george zimmerman was in his car and was told not to follow trayvon martin and he did anyway.
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that is absolutely untrue. >> now what happens as we go forward with these two theories? one will have to establish with the jury evidence to back up their theory on this as opposed to the other, i would imagine. >> that's right. and this is where the rubber meets the road. at the end of the day, it's going to come down to what happened in those crucial moments, number one. did george zimmerman really follow trayvon martin? we do have evidence on the prosecution side that is the girlfriend who was on the phone with him at the time, and she will be a witness. and to the extent she is a credible witness, she establishes because she will report that trayvon martin said why are you following me? so that indicates he was being followed. but even after he has been followed, then what happens? and what george zimmerman claims so far from what we've heard is that trayvon martin eventually turned on him and attacked him.
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and that's why he is claiming self-defense. but george zimmerman himself is going to have to sell that defense. he is going to have to take the witness stand and establish that he was following or was not following trayvon martin, but that trayvon eventually turned on him, because there is no other evidence to establish that, not completely. so ultimately, the evidence is going to have to back up both sides' claims about what happened in those crucial moments. >> so you are saying that george zimmerman is going to have to testify to establish this self-defense, because last week his attorney o'mara said he has not determined whether zimmerman will testify. you're saying that that testimony is needed to establish self-defense? >> i'm saying yes. no, he does not have to testify. that's correct. legally speaking he can elect not. to he can elect to rest on the people's evidence. they don't need to present anything. it's not the defense burden to present any evidence at all that said, i don't see how he is going to be able to sell a claim of self-defense to this jury
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given the fact that he was armed, trayvon martin was not armed. there is evidence to establish that he was following trayvon martin, that the police told him not to look after, not to follow trayvon martin, and that he did so. and unless he takes the stand or has some other kind of compelling witness, and perhaps he does, we don't know. but unless there is some witness that shows trayvon martin actually attacking him, he is going to have to take the stand and establish that fact. >> marcia clark, thanks for your time tonight. >> thank you. still ahead, clarence thomas compares affirmative action to segregation. and remembering the moment 18 years ago tonight when nelson mandela used sports to unite south africa and heal the wounds of apartheid. i want to make things more secure. [ whirring ] [ dog barks ] i want to treat more dogs. ♪ our business needs more cases. [ male announcer ] where do you want to take your business?
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he received a $150 rebate from his health insurance company. and next year, she can expand her small business, thanks to tax credits that cover up to half of her workers' health insurance. better coverage and lower costs. that's what obamacare means for them. get all the facts at: 18 years ago tonight, the world saw a game unite a nation. south africa's national rugby team, the springboks hosted new zealand in the final game of the rugby world cup. just over a year after apartheid had ended, the springboks, who had only one nonwhite player were seen by many black south africans as representative of discrimination that they had faced under apartheid. but nelson mandela just one year after becoming south africa's
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first black president embraced the team as a semble of national unity. >> there is a real possibility if we review our decision and accept that the springbok for rugby as our symbol, we will unite the country. >> the springboks would win an overtime victory, with president mandela personally congratulating the team and its captain. president mandela's relationship with the team captain would become the basis of the 2009 film "invictus" starring morgan freeman and matt damon. >> we need inspiration, francois, because in order to build our nation, we must all exceed our own expectations. >> president mandela's appearance at the game has since been called one of the greatest moments in sports history.
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today the supreme court issued its long-awaited ruling on affirmative action. but the courtside stepped a major decision and instead sent the case back to a lower court for review. by opting not to make a lasting decision on affirmative action, the court kept alive, at least for now, the use of race to achieve diversity in college admissions. the only dissenting opinion came from liberal justice ruth bader ginsburg. while just elena kagan recused herself from the vote. issued a decision saying affirmative action should be abolished entirely.
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for now affirmative action is secure. but what will the effect of this ruling be further down the line? joining me now is jeffrey rosen, law professor at george washington university and legal affairs editor at the new republic. thank you for coming back on the show. >> it's a pleasure to be here always. >> what is your reaction to the court's decision today? >> it was a great surprise. like lots of people, i expected the court to divide along ideological grounds and possibly to strike down or dramatically narrow the possibility of affirmative action. but they didn't do that. they sent the case back to the lower courts. and in that sense, it really is a tribute to chief justice john roberts effort to get narrow decisions that can attract liberal and conservative support. it was a great thing they did not overturn the gretter case. and we'll see what happens in the future. but it's important to say this is a good decision for affirmative action.
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>> so for now, is affirmative action safe? >> it is safe for now. it's not to say it's going to be safe next year when the court hears a case about whether the voters of michigan are allowed to ban affirmative action. >> right. >> it doesn't even mean that this program at the university of texas will survive when it goes back to the lower court and the judges take another look at it. but what it does mean is universities across the country can still use affirmative action as a way of achieving educational diversity. >> now saying that, and we're going to talk in a minute about the michigan case, because that comes up in the next calendar in september, i believe. but justice clarence thomas, he came out. he concurred, but he came out with a written opinion where he actually compared affirmative action to segregation. he wrote, and i'm quoting from his writings, the university's
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professed good intentions cannot excuse its outright racial discrimination anymore than such intentions justified the now denounced arguments of slave holders and segregationism. judge clarence thomas compared people that supported affirmative action to slave holders and segregationists, jeff. >> he did. it's a remarkable opinion, and it's not the first time he has made this comparison. in previous decisions he said i believe there is a moral and constitutional equivalent because the arguments for affirmative action and the arguments for slavery and segregation. what does he mean by this? he says that the segregationists also said that segregation was good for african-americans, would avoid racial tension, would prepare african-americans to be leaders. and he said these are just the same arguments people are making for affirmative action today. he said that slave holders said slavery was a positive good that will civilize african-americans.
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it's a very jarring, striking analogy. and justice john paul stevens has completely rentinged the idea that there is a moral and constitutional equivalence between affirmative action and slavery and segregation. >> not only did he make that statement, since you talk about the past, clarence thomas in the past has said things about affirmative action. in 1983, when he was the chairman of equal employment opportunity commission, in a speech to his staff, clarence thomas said that the laws of affirmative action were of, quote, paramount importance to him. but for them, god only knows where i would be today. these laws and the proper application are all that stand between the first 17 years of my life and the second 17 years. here is a man who benefitted from affirmative action, praised it, said how it changed his life, and now he is comparing it to slave holders and
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segregationists. >> no doubt about it. and what is so striking about justice thomas's evolution on segregation, but he has never denied. in his recent judicial opinions he said it wasn't worth it because i was stigmatized. people can't tell whether i did it on my own or not. >> i think affirmative action answers people being stigmatized where they were excluded by race. that was government law. and you need to undo government law with government law. it was the law that blacks couldn't go certain places. jeffrey rosen, good to have you on the show. thank you for your time tonight. >> thank you. as always, a real pleasure. >> we're right back with "reply al." remember, friend or foe, i want to know. it's monday,
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sharon writes, can someone please identify the park ranger who stood to the left of martin luther king jr. when he gave the "i have a dream speech"? well, sharon, that's a tough one. but reports suggest that ranger was gordon gundrem. he was 25 at the time, assigned to protect mr. king. he said, quote, he started speaking. and it was amazing. it was transformed from a perhaps festival type of atmosphere to almost religious. what he did that day i felt was very close to god. we'll do our part to remember that historic day too. this morning, i joined martin luther king iii to announce our national action to realize the dream. >> i do believe that we will one day realize the dream that our father envisioned for our
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nation. this is not just a nostalgia visit, that this is not a commemoration but a continuation and a call to action. >> on saturday, august 24th, we will take action and march to commemorate 50 years since the original march on washington. we'll take action to keep dr. king's dream moving forward. as we say, it's not just a commemoration, but a continuation. where are we going as a country 50 years from now? 50 years ago, black, white, latino, others marched together and got the '64 civil rights bill, the '65 voting rights bill. well must continue the progress toward this nation coming together and living up to the principles that our dr. kings and others gave their lives for. we must make the dream a
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reality, not just rhetoric. we want to answer your questions. so e-mail me, remember, friend or foe, i want to know. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. where's waldo? let's play "hardball." >> good evening. i'm chris matthews up in boston. any way, we're up here at quincy market to mark tomorrow's special election for the united states senate. oop in just a few minutes, we're going to be joined by the democratic candidate, massachusetts congressman edward markey up here. first let me start with this. you can tell a lot about someone by knowing where they're headed in life. when edward snowden went public with his u.s. intelligence


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